Fathers of the Church

Epistle II: to Vitalis, Guardian of Sardinia

Description

This epistle is from Book IX of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. Gregory tells Vitalus to carry out the excommunication of Januarius' evil counselors, and to ensure that every bit of the wheat given to Gregory as a present is returned to them. See also Epistle I, Book IX, Gregory's letter to Januarius.

Provenance

St. Gregory (b. 540 in Rome) was elected pope at the age of 50, serving from 590 to 604. In 14 years he accomplished much for the Church. England owes her conversion to him. At a period when the invasion of the barbarian Lombards created a new situation in Europe, he played a great part in winning them for Christ. At the same time, he watched equally over the holiness of the clergy and the maintenance of Church discipline, the temporal interests of his people of Rome and the spiritual interests of all Christendom. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade the taking of money for many services, and emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and victims of plague and famine. Gregory also reformed the liturgy, and it still contains several of his most beautiful prayers. The name "Gregorian chant" recalls this great Pope's work in the development of the Church's music. His commentaries on Holy Scripture exercised a considerable influence on Christian thought in the Middle Ages. Following his death in 604, his numerous epistles, including the following letter, were compiled into the Papal Register of Letters.

by Gregory the Great in 590-604 | translated by James Barmby, D.d

Gregory to Vitalis, &c.

What we have learnt about our brother the bishop Januarius the bearers of these presents, as well as the copies of our letters, will sufficiently inform you; and so let thy Experience judiciously carry into effect the excommunication which we have decreed to be pronounced on his perverse counsellors, that they may learn by falling not to walk unwarily.

Moreover, we have sent back by Redemptus the guardian (defensorem), the bearer of these presents, the wheat which had been sent to us under the name of a present. Let thy experience see that neither thou nor he who brought it presume to partake of anything out of it as a bounty, but restore the whole of it without abatement to the several persons, or to all of them together, and send me their receipts for the value; for, should I ascertain that anything has been done otherwise than as I direct, I will visit the offence with no slight severity.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (LNPF II/XIII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.